IFJ Condemns Threats by American Judge to Jail Reporter over Sources

The International Federation of Journalists today condemned a decision by a Federal judge in Washington to jail a reporter from TIME magazine who has refused to disclose the name of government officials who provided him with information.

Yesterday the Federal District court in Washington ordered Matthew Cooper to be jailed for refusing to name Bush Administration officials who he talked to in a story which revealed the name of a CIA officer.

“This sort of story about alleged government misuse of power relies upon confidential sources of information”, said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “If those sources are revealed it would be harder for reporters to do their job”.

Time Magazine has also been fined 1000 dollars a day for contempt of court. Both the judge sentence and the fine have been suspended while an appeal takes place.

This story arises from an article in the New York Times last year saying that President George Bush has relied on discredited intelligence when he said that Iraq had sought uranium from Africa. In later reports, the wife of the article’s author was revealed as a CIA operative and the New York Times and TIME magazine published a story essentially critical of the Administration for leaking information designed to focus public attention away from the original story and towards personal issues.

“This whole affair is about attempts to manipulate information by people in power. It is ironic that the people now facing sanctions are those who brought this matter to public attention”, said White. “This is another case in which journalists’ rights to maintain confidentiality of sources must be protected”.

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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries